|Publication number||US7890193 B2|
|Application number||US 11/839,362|
|Publication date||Feb 15, 2011|
|Priority date||Aug 15, 2007|
|Also published as||US20090048647|
|Publication number||11839362, 839362, US 7890193 B2, US 7890193B2, US-B2-7890193, US7890193 B2, US7890193B2|
|Inventors||Terrell F. Tingey|
|Original Assignee||Tingey Terrell F|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (27), Referenced by (16), Classifications (7), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention generally relates to an oral rehabilitation device, and more particularly to an oral device for training a patient in tongue and jaw position.
Dysfunction of the oral muscles presents itself in many forms and occurs with alarming frequency in the population. Most harmful oral habits occur on a subconscious level or during sleep. Treating incorrect behavior of the muscles of the tongue and the muscles of mastication are of interest to dentists, physicians, and speech therapists.
Tongue function. The proper rest posture for the tongue is flat against the palate (roof of the mouth). In the growing child, the lateral growth of the maxilla is stunted when the tongue does not rest in the palate. Cross bites, crowding and poor occlusion are commonly seen. During sleep, the tongue should maintain posture subconsciously against the palate. If the tongue fails to maintain contact against the palate, it can fall back to a position in the pharynx that obstructs respiration. This is one of the causes of snoring and sleep apnea. A person with significant structural or inflammatory nasal obstruction is obliged to breathe through the mouth. In this case, the tongue rests inferiorly on the floor of the mouth to allow the passage of air through the lips, over the tongue, and into the pharynx. Proper tongue rest position cannot be established with out medical relief of the nasal obstruction. Removal of the obstruction does not always change the tongue posture. Inferior tongue posture in these individuals seems to be habitual, or a behavioral error.
The swallow is a reflexive behavior, but can be consciously controlled. The correct swallowing motion for the tongue is performed with the lower posterior teeth touching the upper posterior teeth and the tongue remaining against the roof of the mouth. The pressure at the tip of the tongue is increased against the anterior palate and the contact area rolls posteriorly sweeping the bolus of food or liquid into the pharynx. A common error in swallowing occurs in persons who thrust their tongue anteriorly between the upper and lower front teeth. This is sometimes called a “tongue thrust” or “infantile swallow.” The repetitive forceful contact of the tongue against the incisal edges of the upper and lower anterior teeth produces an intrusive force against the incisors. The tongue thruster also fails to bring the lower posterior teeth against the upper posterior teeth, which results in excessive vertical growth of the posterior teeth. The result is an open bite malocclusion with no contact or vertical overlap of the upper and lower incisors. In some instances the tongue will thrust laterally instead of anteriorly, causing a lack of occlusal contact in one or both sides of the dentition. Successful treatment requires training correct swallowing behavior.
Proper speech requires the adept coordination of movement of the vocal chords, lips and tongue, with feedback from hearing. Many individuals have difficulty with correct tongue position and exhibit poor control and strength of the tongue. Therapeutic exercises are usually prescribed to correct the articulation errors.
Masticatory muscle loading. The muscles of mastication are normally active during chewing, and briefly during swallowing. Muscle contraction outside of these activities is considered to be dysfunctional. It is termed bruxism, clenching or grinding. This behavior is believed to be a response to stress, pain, and irregular occlusion. It causes pain, joint damage, dental attrition, and periodontal damage. Long-term bruxism also causes hypertrophy of the masticatory muscles and may, through intrusion of the posterior teeth, structurally reduce lower facial height. Most treatments of bruxism are designed to reduce the intensity of the muscle loading or shield the oral structures from the effects of non-physiologic forces.
Conversely, hypoactive masticatory muscles, that fail to load during swallowing, contribute to the creation of open bite malocclusion. In such individuals, the erupting lower and upper teeth often fail to meet in a balanced cusp-fossa relationship. The contacts between the upper and lower teeth will usually be few, and located mostly in the posterior regions. With time, the posterior teeth will be worn flat, requiring repair. The unchecked passive eruption of the posterior teeth causes increased lower facial height, and a dolicocephalic facial form. Current treatments may surgically improve the skeletal dimensions in such cases, but no treatment has yet been shown to strengthen and tone the masticatory muscles.
These and other objectives are accomplished by the oral appliance of the invention. The oral appliance of the invention is for training a patient in the posture and function of the tongue. The device includes an appliance body, which is configured for placement in a patient's mouth, adjacent the patient's tongue and teeth. The appliance body includes one or more tongue parameter sensors mounted in the appliance body for detecting certain parameters related to a patient's tongue. These can include tongue position, tongue pressure, the tongue contact duration, the interval between contact of a patient's tongue against the appliance body.
The oral appliance includes an electronic processor for receiving a signal from the tongue parameter sensors. The electronic processor may be mounted in the appliance body, and it may also be positioned at a distance from the appliance body, such as outside the patient's mouth, and either tethered to the appliance body or connected wirelessly to the appliance body. The electronic processor is configured to receive a signal from the tongue parameter sensors and to select a response to the sensors based on a predetermined selection of appropriate responses. The appliance body includes one or more stimulus electrodes for contact with a part of the patient. The stimulus electrodes are provided for delivering a feedback stimulus to the patient. The stimulus electrodes would be positioned to contact the oral mucosa of a patient, or could also be configured to contact the patient's skin in some location outside the patient's mouth. The stimulus electrodes can be part of the appliance body, or could also be positioned at a distance from the appliance body. For instance, a stimulus electrode could be placed on a patient's ear lobe, fingertip or other convenient location, and could be connected to the appliance body by a wire or by a wireless electronic connection. The device also includes one or more stimulus generators for generating a feedback stimulus and delivering the feedback stimulus to the stimulus electrodes. The stimulus would be based on information from the electronic processor, based on the patient's tongue parameters. A power source is also provided for providing energy to the stimulus generator.
One tongue parameter which may be sensed is tongue position. Tongue position is sensed by one or more tongue position sensors, which relay information about tongue position to the electronic processor. A programmable microprocessor is provided in the device for recording tongue parameters over time from the tongue parameter sensors, which may include tongue position sensors. The electronic processor forms a response to the tongue parameters in the form of a feedback stimulus delivered to the patient.
Another tongue parameter which may be sensed is tongue pressure. Tongue pressure is sensed by the use of one or more tongue pressure sensors.
The feedback stimulus provided to the patient can be in the form of an electric shock, which is generally directed to the patient via one or more stimuli. The appliance body is typically attached to the patient's upper teeth and/or upper palate.
The device may also include one or more sensors for jaw position, which send a signal related to jaw position to an electronic processor. The electronic processor would select a response based on the detected tongue parameters and jaw position and deliver that response to the stimulus electrodes. The jaw position sensed is whether the jaw is open or closed.
One version of the device includes sensors for both tongue position and jaw position.
While the invention is susceptible of various modifications and alternative constructions, certain illustrated embodiments thereof have been shown in the drawings and will be described below in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific form disclosed, but, on the contrary, the invention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the claims.
In the following description and in the FIGURE, like elements are identified with like reference numerals. The use of “or” indicates a non-exclusive alternative without limitation unless otherwise noted. The use of “including” means “including, but not limited to,” unless otherwise noted.
Technology which is suitable for the tongue parameter sensors 14 includes strain gauges, piezoresistors, air pressure sensors, and capacitance touch switches. These and other standard and readily available electronic technologies can serve as a basis for the tongue parameters sensors 14. Electrical connections between the tongue parameter sensors 14 and the electronic processor 16 are provided by conductive pathways which may be copper wires embedded in the matrix of the appliance body 12, or which can also be painted or etched or otherwise affixed to the outside surfaces of the appliance body 12. For instance, a conductive paint can form a link between the tongue parameter sensors 14 and the electronic processor 16. Also, conductive pathways can be applied using an adhesive to either surface of the appliance body 12.
The electronic processor 16 receives signals from the tongue parameter sensors 14, interprets them and responds with a response appropriate to the condition being treated. If a response was needed it would typically be an electronic stimulus produced by a stimulus generator 20, and would require energy from a power source 22. The electronic processor 16 would send a signal to one or more stimulus electrodes 18, positioned on the ventral side 30 of the appliance body 12. In this particular configuration the electronic components are connected by a tether 26, and the electronic processor 16, stimulus generator 20, and power source 22 are located exterior to the patient's mouth. The power source could be in the form of a battery for instance. These components could also be made in a wireless mode, and in the wireless mode these components could be located anywhere near the patient and the appliance body 12. For instance, these components would be attached to the patient's pillow or clothing, worn on a wrist strap, or attached to the patient's bed or any other furniture. In miniature format, the electronics components could also be located on the appliance body 12. Feedback can also be in the form of a visual cue, or an audible cue, or as a vibration or other tactile cue.
Parameters that the tongue parameter sensors 14 would be configured to detect would include the time of contact, or the lack of contact of the tongue to the palate, or the lack of contact of the tongue from one tooth to another. In response to information such as this, a stimulus generator 20 would send the pre-selected stimulus to electrodes 18. Examples of tongue position detection would include the normal tongue-up and forward position, and abnormal tongue-down position, or tongue-back position, and abnormal tongue-forward position. Other conditions the device could be used with include tongue thrust swallow, mouth breathing, low tongue posture, posterior pharyngeal constriction, speech impediment, clenching and bruxism.
The electronic processor 16, or a version of the processor which is programmable, is shown in
The tongue parameter sensors 14 are located on the oral side 30, and the stimulus electrodes are on the tissue side 28. Included in
The stimulus sent to the stimulus electrodes 18 would typically be a very light electric shock, which would typically but not necessarily be calibrated to be insufficient to wake a patient up. However it would at least raise the patent's level of consciousness to a level to cause correction of the contraindicated behavior related to jaw or tongue position. In this manner a bio feedback loop would be established to train the patient to not perform the contraindicated behaviors, including certain tongue positions and jaw positions. This conditioning would follow the strategy of classical conditioning and over a period of time would teach the patient to develop new habits of tongue posture and jaw position.
Variations of the Electric biofeedback oral trainer include:
While there is shown and described the present preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be distinctly understood that this invention is not limited thereto, but may be variously embodied to practice within the scope of the following claims. From the foregoing description, it will be apparent that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.
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|Cooperative Classification||A61N1/36014, A61N1/3601, A61N1/0548, A61B5/4818|
|Jul 15, 2011||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ORALTONE LLC, IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TINGEY, TERRELL F;REEL/FRAME:026598/0086
Effective date: 20110621
|Jul 16, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4